Do Betta Fish Need Air Pump? A Breakdown

An air pump is a pretty simple addition to just about any aquarium. They essentially work at bubbling air all throughout your tank. There are a number of different fish which can benefit from the presence of such a device. However, if you’re new to keeping betta fish, you may be wondering do betta fish need air pump?

As you’re going to find out, there are several different components to this question that we need to look at. In a word, the answer is probably no, but you may find an air pump is necessary in your situation.

Let’s break this subject down point by point.

Do Betta Fish Need Air Pump?

If we focus specifically on the word “Need”, the answer is simple enough. No, they don’t need an air pump, in the sense that some fish need one to tank properly circulated. They move oxygenated water down to the bottom of the tank, while simultaneously moving fresh water to the top of your tank to become oxygenated.

Simple right? You can begin to see the value of this product for the fish in your aquarium.

However, this doesn’t translate to necessarily needing one for bettas. While the bubbles create a surface movement that in turns moves along this oxygenation process, bettas do not need the extra agitation. A simple filter in the tank will accomplish what your bettas need to be happy. This also takes into their own movement.

An air pump is mostly going to be useless, as far as your bettas are concerned. There are exceptions to this rule, which we are going to cover shortly. For now, let’s explain why bettas are different from other fish, in terms of whether or not you need an air pump for the tank.

Can Air Pumps Cause Problems For Bettas?

The air pump can actually create too much movement in the water. This can cause your bettas to become stressed out, which can lead to other health issues, including poor appetite and agitation. You obviously don’t want those things.

The other issue is that they just don’t really need it. The purpose of the air pump is to get oxygen to fish that prefer to swim along the bottom of your tank. Bettas traditionally spend a fair amount of their day-to-day existence swimming close to the surface of the tank. This allows them to get all of the air they need.

At the same time, there are in fact instances in which an air pump can be very helpful indeed for your betta fish. We’re going to take a look at when you may want to consider one.

When Will My Betta Need An Air Pump?

The fact that bettas do not generally need an air pump is not the end of the matter. Let’s take a look at some of the situations in which it may indeed be warranted on your part:


If your betta is taking medicine, then it might be a good idea to get an air pump. This is done to make up for the fact that many of the top betta medications can eat up the oxygen that is normally in the tank. In fact, unchecked, certain meds for a betta can cause them to suffocate, unable to get the oxygen they need. An air pump covers the gap nicely.

Special Circumstances

There are also situations in which an air pump can prove you with an added level of protection for your betta, in the event of something like a power outage. Remember that air pumps are available in battery-powered form. If the electricity goes out, and you are unsure as to when it might come back on.


As long as the air pump isn’t causing actual agitation with your betta, the odds are pretty good that it will actually enjoy having the bubbles it produces around. Again, provided, it doesn’t stress them out, their other likely response will be to play with it. Anything that gets your bettas playing, while keeping them thoroughly entertained, can prove to be a really good idea.

These are just a few of the reasons to keep in mind. At the same time, we have to reiterate that with the exception of the medication reason, none of these scenarios are a “must.”

Okay, Okay, Should I Buy An Air Pump For My Betta?

Our advice would be to consider at least purchasing one of the top air pumps for fish tanks that are currently available. Why? In a nutshell, we aren’t talking about a particularly expensive piece of equipment. This is something you can buy, and set aside for any of the scenarios that we listed above. If you never have to use the air pump, then you really won’t be losing anything.

If there is in fact an emergency, such as medication, or the power going out, you are going to be glad you have the air pump on hand.

Having said all of this, definitely keep an eye on your bettas, if you happen to add an air pump at any point. Pay attention to their behavior. If they start to get stressed out, or if something like their appetite seems to be taking a turn for the worse, you should almost certainly have the air pump removed ASAP.

Lastly, don’t forget that air pumps are NOT the same as a filter! This is a common mistake that some fish owners make, and the consequences can be problematic. Especially when you understand that an air pump is not cleaning the tank as it works. It is simply helping to oxygenate the water by agitating it.

To put it one way: You don’t need an air pump. You will definitely need a filter.

We hope this clears the matter up. If you still aren’t sure if an air pump is right for your bettas, consider talking to your vet about the matter.

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